Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year Program

What is the Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year Program?

 

The Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year program annually recognizes four top performing landscape plants that support pollinators and grow beautifully in a garden. Plants will be recognized and promoted from the following categories: Spring Bloomer, Summer Bloomer, Fall Bloomer and Georgia Native. Seasonal selections may or may not be native.

Nominations are solicited from gardeners throughout Georgia and are then determined by a selection committee based on each plant’s horticultural value, ease of propagation and ecological significance. The selection committee has chosen the winning plants for the year 2021, providing interested growers a full year to increase their stock of these plants.

Our Goals

  • Create a network of horticultural professionals through which plant materials and propagation techniques can be shared.
  • Increase statewide availability and diversity of pollinator-supporting plants for consumers.
  • Educate consumers about the increasingly important impact that landscaping and home gardens can have on pollinator populations.

We recognize the need for collaboration across all steps of production and marketing, from grower to consumer, in order to improve availability of appropriate pollinator supporting plants statewide. This program represents the combined efforts of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, growers, entomologists, landscape professionals and conservationists across the state.

Get Involved

Plant lovers – Nominate your favorite pollinator plants. Anyone can participate in the nomination process. We want to know which plants Georgians think perform well in their gardens and support high pollinator diversity.

Nominate A Plant

Growers – Help us grow more of the winning plants. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia will serve as a seed source for difficult to find plant selections. Limited quantities available. For more information, please contact Heather Alley about seed sourcing.

Retailers – Let us know if you carry any of the winning plants in your store. We want to celebrate growers and retailers who are increasing the availability of pollinator plants.

Gardeners – Plant winning plants in your garden. List of participating retailers will be posted in 2021.

Spring Bloomer – Conradina
Conradina canescens

About: Conradina is a 1-2’ evergreen woody shrub in the mint family with aromatic, needle-like leaves. In spring, this plant is covered in small lavender flowers with purple spotted throats.

Propagation: Easy to propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings on new growth. Use rooting powder and keep moist until roots form, after about a month. Root in porous cutting mix with at least 50% pumice or coarse perlite and peat moss. It takes about a year for a cutting to fill a trade gallon; worth the wait!

Growing Conditions: Drought-tolerant and prefers full sun. Avoid overwatering.

Conservation Value: Supports many native bees and other pollinators.

Consumer Appeal: Delightfully scented and fine-textured evergreen foliage. Plants look great trailing down a container and have a fantastic architectural growth habit. Blooms profusely in spring.

 

Summer Bloomer – Sweet Pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia

About: Sweet Pepperbush is a small, deciduous and densely branched shrub. Panicles of white flowers give way to persistent seed heads in the fall.

Propagation: Propagate by seeds or softwood cuttings. Seeds don’t require any pre-treatment and germinate best on sand. Softwood cuttings will root with or without rooting hormone under mist.

Growing Conditions: Prefers moist sites and performs fantastically in poorly-drained soils. Thrives in full sun or shade.

Conservation Value: Supports many native bees and other pollinators. Birds and other animals feed on the seeds in fall and winter.

Consumer Appeal: Flowers provide an intoxicating fragrance in the summer when most other plants have stopped blooming. Will bloom well even in shade. This is a great plant for rain gardens.

 

Fall Bloomer – Downy Goldenrod
Solidago petiolaris

About: This plant is one of the shorter goldenrods standing at 1-3’ tall. In August to October the flowers bloom in dense, spike-like clusters creating a yellow plume.

Propagation: Easy to propagate from seeds. Collect seeds in late fall when the tufted seeds pull off the stem easily. Seeds don’t require stratification but seed viability drops considerably with age.

Growing Conditions: Drought-tolerant and prefers full sun. Avoid overwatering.

Conservation Value: An excellent plant for supporting pollinators: bees, wasps and at least 112 species of butterflies and moths.

Consumer Appeal: This is a great fall bloomer, is relatively deer resistant, and behaves well in the garden — unlike many other goldenrods.

 

Georgia Native – Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

About: Butterfly Weed is an herbaceous perennial wildflower that reaches 1-2’ tall. This plant has highly branched stems with lance-shaped leaves.

Propagation: Easy to propagate from seed or root cuttings. Check (pinch) for well-filled viable seeds and stratify for 30 days for uniform germination. Seeds need light to germinate. Root cuttings may be taken once plant has developed an adequate root system. Transplant 2” sections and bury them 1” below surface of potting media. Pot plants in deep cells for better drainage and tap root development.

Growing Conditions: Drought-tolerant and prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Conservation Value: Larval host plant for Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed Tussock Moth and a nectar source for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Consumer Appeal: Orange flowers are striking and long-lived; few other plants have such a bright orange color. Excellent for sunny borders, meadows and containers